Demonstrators protest against Walker outside Mallinckrodt
Perplexed students and drivers rubbernecked along Forsyth Blvd. Tuesday afternoon as protesters displayed signs and chanted in opposition of former comptroller general of the United States David Walker who arrived on the Washington University campus as part of his “$10 Million a Minute” tour.
According to the demonstrators, Walker supports Simpson-Bowles, a government committee proposing cuts in government benefits such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
“They [Walker and the $10 Million a Minute tour] are part of Simpson-Bowles,” said the protester David Kingsley. “The guy was telling me they don’t want to cut social security, they don’t want to cut Medicare. Well, read Simpson-Bowles. That’s what they’re really about,”” he said.
Walker, however, stated that he was not in support of Simpson-Bowles. He spontaneously walked out to meet with the protesters and encouraged the group to attend his speech.
“I think it’s great that people organize because we don’t have enough people organized,” Walker said. “All I want you to do is get the facts and make up your own mind.”
Many of the demonstrators had traveled from as far as Kansas City and Columbia, Mo. to protest and attend Walker’s speech.
“We’re here because we very much oppose the Simpson-Bowles cuts that are being proposed,” protester Mary Hussmann said. “We’ve got a good group of fired up people and we’re going to fight any cuts.”
Decreased benefits, increased age requirements and changes in cost of living calculations were among the chief grievances for many of the protestors.
“We call it gutting social security and we don’t like that. We think people that work all their lives have the right to some type of retirement,” protester Ralph Walker said.
“The $10 Million a Minute people want to make beneficiaries pay more for their health insurance,” said Jean Rosenthal, demonstrator and a member of Washington University’s class of 1972. “They don’t want the health insurance companies to be the ones who are taking the cuts and making less money.”
While many students were surprised by the seemingly impromptu protest, Susan McGinn, executive director of the University’s news service, noted that the group had contacted the University beforehand and made arrangements.
One officer from WUPD supervised the protest, though McGinn said that the group did not cause the University any problems.
“We’re open to having diverse viewpoints on campus. That’s kind of the nature of a university,” McGinn said.